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Royal Ascot set to be held behind closed doors but Derby cancelled

Covid-19 has caused havoc with sporting fixtures around the world with most major events having been either postponed or cancelled completely. The 2020 Randox Health Grand National failed to take place and a large number of the biggest horse races have been under threat since the start of the pandemic.

Hopes were high that the Royal Ascot and Derby meetings scheduled for June could go ahead as normal, however this has proven impossible with the latter being cancelled completely. Ascot have hinted that their Royal meeting may still go ahead but with no members of the general public allowed.

A statement from the racecourse read:

“For public health and safety reasons we have reached the difficult but unavoidable conclusion that Royal Ascot 2020 (Tuesday 16th – Saturday 20th June) will not be able to take place as an event open to the public. This will of course be a great disappointment for everyone planning to attend.

“It may prove possible to run the Royal Ascot races behind closed doors, dependent on Government and public health policy and the approval of the BHA for us to re-start racing. This would be for the benefit of the industry, our valued partners and suppliers and our television audiences at home and internationally.  Planning for this is now our complete focus and we will update on progress as and when we can.

“We thank everyone in advance for their patience and understanding in completing this substantial task given the challenging practical circumstances of the current national lockdown.

“The pandemic will have a significant financial impact on our business in 2020, along with so many others. Nevertheless, Ascot racecourse will come through this crisis and we look forward to being able to welcome racegoers back when it is safe to do so.

“Our thoughts are with all those grieving and suffering as a result of COVID-19.  We offer heartfelt thanks to our wonderful NHS staff, key workers and volunteers for all their selfless dedication.”

At Epsom, the Derby organisers made an announcement of their own:

“We’re sorry to announce that due to the current public health emergency, the Investec Derby Festival will not be staged on Friday 5th & Saturday 6th June.

“While Ladies’ Day and Derby Day will next be held in June 2021, we are now working with our partners in the industry to seek to establish a future date this year when the Investec Oaks and Investec Derby races can take place this year. We will keep you informed on any future developments.

“Thank you for your continued support for Epsom Downs Racecourse.”